The Egyptian government has criticised a lack of adherence by citizens to precautionary measures against the coronavirus, with officials warning that preventative measures could be reinstated.
In a meeting on Monday with the country's supreme committee tasked with managing the crisis of the pandemic, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said that many citizens have not been complying with anti-coronavirus safety measures despite continued warnings from the authorities.
Madbouly called for fining those who do not wear facemasks on public transport or in crowded places like malls.
On 30 May, the country made wearing facemasks in public places mandatory, with violators facing hefty fines of up to EGP 4,000. However, most people in the country have not been adhering to the mask regulations, especially with the decline in reported infections over the past three months.
Referring to the shutdown measures Egypt had imposed earlier this year to fight the virus, Minister Madbouly stressed that "some previous tough measures" could be reinstated if the state of non-compliance persists.
Egypt began the move towards a gradual reopening of its economy in June, easing the pandemic-related restrictions including lifting a night-time curfew, reopening restaurants and places of worship, and resuming regular international flights as part of its plans to coexist with the virus.
Although the reported infection rate has been low since August, the government has repeatedly urged caution to avoid a potential second wave of the pandemic, particularly with the advent of autumn and the beginning of the new academic year.
"This could economically harm some groups that the government is working to [help out]," PM Madbouly warned, urging people to wear facemasks and maintain social distancing, according to a cabinet statement released following the meeting.
He said that some countries have resorted to imposing full lockdowns recently, "so we are called upon to show commitment [to precautionary measures] so we do not reach a point where we have to make difficult decisions that may harm many economically."
Madbouly demanded that officials follow up on the implementation of precautionary measures at all schools and universities, both of which resumed their activities last month under a hybrid education system of in-person and face-to-face classes.
He also demanded that all protective measure be maintained in tourist cities and airports.
The PM ordered that all medicines included in the treatment protocols be provided to hospitals and pharmacies.
The meeting was attended by a number of cabinet members including Health Minister Hala Zayed and Higher Education and Scientific Research Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar.
During the meeting, Minister Zayed said there are signs that a second wave of the pandemic is set to hit some Arab and Middle East countries.
Clinical trials for vaccine
Minister Zayed said that 3,784 Egyptians have volunteered in the ongoing phase three clinical trials of Chinese-made coronavirus vaccines.
In July, Egypt said it was selected by China to serve as a future African hub for manufacturing a coronavirus vaccine if one is developed by Beijing.
Zayed told the committee meeting that Egypt's manufacturing capacity and location – which she said qualifies it to serve as a hub for supplying the vaccine to the African continent – brought the world's attention to manufacturing the anticipated vaccine in Egypt.
The clinical trial kicked off in Egypt two months ago.
Phase 3 involves testing the efficacy and safety of the vaccine before it is licensed, and involves several thousand volunteers.
Tourism Minister Khaled El-Anani said during the meeting that up to 380,000 tourists visited Egypt over the past four months, most of whom hailed from Ukraine.
Egypt resumed regular international flights at all its airports in July, after a four-month hiatus due to the pandemic.